David Abel

Antonin Artaud's 'Hyper-Negation'

Image 1: Watchfiends and Rack Screams. Image 2: Antonin Artaud: Man of Vision.
Image 1: Antonin Artaud, Watchfiends and Rack Screams: Works from the Final Period, Tr. Clayton Eshleman and Bernard Bador, (Boston: Exact Change, 1995.) Cover art: Nancy Spero, detail from “Codex Artaud XXIII,” 1972. Image 2: Bettina Knapp, Antonin Artaud: Man of Vision, (Chicago: Swallow Press, 1969.) Cover art: Still from La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, 1928.

When I asked the poet David Abel what first drew him to Antonin Artaud’s work, he said, “At least one dimension of that work is a grand negation. A gigantic no, which at a certain time in my life was absolutely thrilling. […] I feel like ‘no’ is a landscape that now is very rich and three-dimensional. And what I got from Artaud is foundational, a part of the architecture or a part of the geology of the no, but which now has lots of other structures in it.”[1] David Abel’s response captures a fundamental celebration of Antonin Artaud’s writings.

How can they write and believe? (PoemTalk #78)

Muriel Rukeyser, 'Ballad of Orange and Grape'


Amy King, David Abel, and Mytili Jagannathan joined Al Filreis for this 78th episode of PoemTalk to discuss a poem by Muriel Rukeyser about urban activism. “Ballad of Orange and Grape” [link to text] appeared in Rukeyser’s 1973 book Breaking Open, and is perhaps the best known poem from the end of her career. The recording we feature here is from a 1977 LP release of a recording produced with the 92nd Street Y in New York. But we make reference to a recording of the poem performed after a long discursive introduction by the poet for students and teachers at the University of Warwick, England, in 1971.

David Abel in conversation


David Abel visited the Kelly Writers House recently in order to record his poems for PennSound (his PennSound author page will be available soon), to check with us about our progress in digitizing a box of rare recordings on cassette he has given us for adding to the PennSound archive, and to participate in a recording session of PoemTalk (on a poem by Muriel Rukeyser), to be released later. Among the cassettes are readings by David Rattray and Gene Frumkin.

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